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The Perfect Schedule: A Simple Exercise In Life Design

Once every blue moon I come up with a good quote. Most of the time it’s less a result of me being smart than me finding a way to spin someone else’s words just enough so that it sounds like something new. The last time it happened, a quote from The Obstacle is the Way became:

Design Your Life, Not Your Lifestyle

First, Id like to make a distinction between life design and lifestyle design.

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(unless you want a castle, that is)

The non-obvious trap behind chasing a 4-hour workweek is that achieving it is only meaningful when you have something to fill the void you’ll otherwise fall into.

Designing your life, as opposed to lifestyle, is about that. Whether you achieve the passive income dream or not, you’ll spend a large portion of your life, if not most of it, at some form of work.

The Exercise: Your Perfect Schedule

Imagine you hit the jackpot tomorrow. As a newly minted lottery winner, your entire schedule is cleared from one day to the next.

Step 1: Write down a 24-hour breakdown of a day.

Start with 12 AM. Then move up until you’ve written down the last hour of the day, 11 PM — 12 AM. You can do this digitally or on paper.

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Step 2: Add your most desired activity to each hour.

Consider how much time you’ll want for sleep, how much time to eat, a potential commute if you’d like to go to an office, and so on.

  • 1–2 AM: Sleep
  • 2–3 AM: Sleep
  • 3–4 AM: Sleep
  • 4–5 AM: Sleep
  • 5–6 AM: Wake up (depending on sunrise time)
  • 6–7 AM: Taking 10 minutes to toss and turn, reading for a minute or two, mini workout, shower
  • 7–8 AM: Leave the house and walk 10–20 minutes to an office or workspace, make coffee and a light breakfast, read for 30 minutes
  • 8–9 AM: Writing
  • 9–10 AM: Writing
  • 10–11 AM: Writing
  • 11–12 PM: Writing
  • 12–1 PM: Lunch with a friend
  • 1–2 PM: Catch up on social media and republish an article on Medium
  • 2–3 PM: Email
  • 3–4 PM: Work on a new and fun project
  • 4–5 PM: Work on a new and fun project
  • 5–6 PM: Walk to the pool, swim
  • 6–7 PM: Walk home, dinner with Mrs. Right
  • 7–8 PM: Finish dinner, watch a movie or TV show
  • 8–9 PM: Movie/TV, prepare for bed, read
  • 9–10 PM: Reading
  • 10–11 PM: Sleep
  • 11–12 AM: Sleep

I do think in a life dominated by freedom, most days will be alike.

Don’t obsess about the exact structure of the day itself, it’ll change often, and it should. Then what is the point of this exercise? The devil is, as usual, in the details.

Details Matter

If you’ve seen exercises similar to this one, the conclusion will likely have been:

The perfect schedule is not about designing your current life so that it’s more like it. It’s about designing your life in a way that moves you closer to it in the long term.

Your current day might be nothing like the ideal one you imagine. Maybe you work night shifts, but want to manage a team, or be a freelancer. Maybe you sit in meetings all day, but would like a writing schedule like me.

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I write more here. Originally published at on May 12, 2017.

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